Domain name hijacking!
Domain names are becoming "hot" property
- as in *theft* for resale. More and more companies are finding
they cannot get their trademarked names as a domain name because
so few good names are left. But sometimes it's outright extortion
as when a Fortune 500 company name is reserved by someone that has
no intention of developing a site under the domain, but simply "parks"
it somewhere and waits to be contacted by the big boys to purchase
the name for astronomical fees.
A more lucrative market for domain names exists in short, memorable
generic names like Loans.com or Homes.com which can apply to an
entire industry as can be seen in recent news.
One of the lesser known and more frustrating issues is when a small
business name or new product domain name is reserved by someone
hoping to make a buck or two. Here's a question faced by small business
owners getting started online.
"I've trademarked a name, but the domain name is taken, it
was reserved by another company right after I registered my trademark.
Do I have a legal right to the domain name?"
The following link is to a page titled "Domain Names, A Trademark
It discusses legal issues and cites two cases that have been taken
to court over domain name hijacking.
People who do this may be doing it intentionally or innocently,
but generally, you don't have a case unless you've got a long established
use of the trademarked name and can prove that the registrant was
intending to extort excessive fees from you in the hopes you'd buy
the name back from them.
You can take it to court if you like, but it's not likely to do
you any good unless you can prove that the registrant had the intent
to squat on the name and not use it, hoping that you would be willing
to pay excessively to get it back.
Still, the case may cost you more than it's worth.
This is an unresolved battle with more and more companies. Until
laws are passed (not likely) there will be no way to protect a domain
name other than being the first one to reserve it. You may have
a case if they are harming your business in some way by the inappropriate
use of that name. But if they are simply using for another purpose,
you might consider selling them the trademark instead. ;-)
Contact the registrant of www.your-trademark.com to see who it
is, there's a way to find the registered owner by going to this
address and typing in the domain name.
It will return a registrant name, host name and the name servers.
You might consider contacting them and simply explaining your trademark
situation, your desire to own the name and then simply ask if they
would consider a reasonable solution. Possibly something as simple
as a suggestion that you'd like to avoid a court battle and make
it worth their time to sell it to you by offering twice what they
paid for it.
If they have not spent large sums developing a branding strategy
for the name, they may be willing to give it up. If it's only few
months old it may be possible that they haven't begun to develop
their site or their strategy yet. You may be assuming the worst
but then be confronted with a friendly and accomodating person willing
to look for an equitable solution!
Good luck with your own names and trademarks!
About the Author
By: Mike Banks Valentine
- WebSite101 "Reading List" Weekly Netrepreneur Tip Sheet
Ezine emphasizing small business online http://website101.com/arch/